5 steps to building a successful dairy plant in 2023

In recent years, the dairy industry has been undergoing a transformation. After the explosive increase in production in 2014, a new stage has arrived, characterized by tougher competition, the departure from the market of weak players and the development of strong enterprises. Against this background, those who are just about to enter the dairy production market have to take the issue of organizing production even more seriously. We have compiled five points worth paying attention to those who have decided to build a dairy processing plant.

Step 1: Design

The process of construction is preceded by a very important step – engineering – in which the customer receives a ready concept for the development of the entire plant. If the company plans to create additional areas in the future, for example to increase the range or capacity of production, this should be reflected in the initial design. The plant is an interconnected structure, so when the management comes to the next stage of development or modernization, the situation should not arise that the company will have to stop or seriously change its technical processes. When modernizing and expanding production, it is important to choose the right site, so that from the first step the work already gives results, and there are no situations where the company has to wait for the next investments to feel the changes. Each stage of modernization or expansion should bring profit to the enterprise in the form of increased volumes, improved quality or expanded range of products. Clever Machines experts recommend to make production documentation on the basis of 3D-models. Such approach allows to visualize the equipment before purchase and the whole working area in conditions of existing premises, excludes errors and makes it possible to plan further expansion of production.

Step 2: Compliance with environmental laws

Environmental laws are getting stricter all the time. Enterprises are obliged to recycle waste, pay ecological fees and implement the best available technologies.

For example, last year new legislation on water supply and sewage came into force, which requires companies to sign a contract with water utilities and comply with the level of waste water. According to the contract, enterprises have to compensate city services for exceeding the norms of wastewater, and the water utility, in its turn, pays the state for exceeding the norms. As a rule, milk processing plants pollute water bodies with discharged whey. In the future, environmental legislation will only become stricter.

In order to reduce the load on the environment and cut the “ecological” costs the plants, depending on their size, install modern equipment or build purification stations. At milk processing plants today, wastewater treatment consists of four main stages: mechanical treatment, biological treatment, physical and chemical effects and disinfection of water.  To this end, plants have sand removal systems, grates, flotators, membrane modules, compaction systems, dewatering and thickening of sludge.

membrane filtration

Step 3: Finding the right equipment

In a modern dairy plant, machines perform all processes, from receiving milk to packaging the finished product. A typical set of equipment for an average dairy is the following units:

  • tanks and separators for receiving and cleaning milk;
  • pasteurizers for milk processing;
  • bottling and packaging lines for finished products;
  • cold storage rooms.

Further to this set additional machines are added, the set of which depends on the range of products, the estimated production volume and the number of personnel involved.

The operation of modern equipment does not require a large staff. Usually, one operator at each technological section controls the process via control panel. Data from sensors are archived and can be stored for more than a year, so if necessary it is possible to check any stage of production. This approach allows to reduce the influence of human factor as much as possible, while increasing the speed and efficiency of production without worrying about the quality of the finished product. In case any of the units requires urgent repair or maintenance, the responsible employee is notified on the control panel screen. 

Initial attention to the quality of the equipment at the design stage will allow the plant to operate without interruption for long cycles of more than eight hours and not to stop the machines for long periods, for example for washing, as it happens in plants with outdated equipment. In order that the process of intensive use of equipment does not end with a sudden stop of the enterprise, it is important that the processor has a reliable supplier of spare parts, which will replace a broken part in time.

Step 4: Buying storage and mixing tanks

For much of the manufacturing process in a dairy plant, you need tank equipment. Tanks are used to store milk after it is received at the farm and transported to the plant. Such equipment is needed for cleaning and processing milk, as well as for fermentation, leavening, melting fat, and storing finished products. Tanks are often equipped with agitators, heating elements, valves, sight glasses or control cabinets. 

The quality of tank equipment materials directly affects the quality of finished dairy products. For example, if any of the containers failed or deteriorated, microorganisms begin to penetrate into the milk. This leads to the formation of metabolic products and enzymes. If the number of bacteria becomes higher, the milk will become unfit for further use. That is why Clever Machines experts advise to choose the tanks for the enterprise wisely from the very beginning.

Step 5: Finding a service contractor

Even high-quality and properly installed equipment requires regular service, such as start-up work at the beginning of use or service and repair work during operation. Many entrepreneurs purchase previously used equipment for their dairies. But such units may not have a warranty, and previous operating conditions can lead to its rapid failure. Clever Machines experts advise to buy equipment from reliable manufacturers who would provide prompt service and technical advice, including remote assistance if the company is located far from the city and an emergency call is impossible.

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